Well, it’s here

It’s January 9th and we are in the middle of a really cold, snowy winter. I’ve already been stranded once trying to get home from work in a blizzard, so all in all, just a typical crappy scenario for walking outside

Here are some ways I am trying to get my 10,000 steps.

Walking in my basement. It’s not as boring as it sounds. Well, maybe just a little, but I have an open floor plan and it’s a relatively cheerful and happy place, so an hour of walking to pumped up jams isn’t bad. It’s an hour I would have spent sitting in front of the TV in a cabin fever induced coma, so already it’s better.

Walking in malls. That’s if I can drive somewhere through the snow. Lots of people walk at the mall. So, on days when I want a little company and a change of scenery, that’s where I go. Plus, window shopping is fun, too.

Parking far away and building steps into my day. This does help. Taking the stairs at work, parking as far as possible from the grocery store… it all helps.

Walking outside is still an option when it’s sunny, and the roads are plowed. I try to get out there. They say there is no cold weather, only inadequate clothing, so I’m taking that to heart and breaking out the thermals.

I’ve also tried snow shoeing which is a very strenuous way to get steps, but it’s a lot of fun.

The one thing I haven’t done is go to the gym, and there is a good reason for that. I am paring down expenses, and at $60 a month, it’s no longer an option. And it doesn’t need to be. I’m getting my steps most days, just doing what I’m doing.

So, all in all, I’m passing the time, getting steps and waiting for Spring.

The people on the road

img_0894When I’m out there on the road everyday, doing my steps, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people that I see everyday. In the morning, there’s an older guy on his touring bike, all decked out in a cool Tour de France uniform and helmet. He always says “good morning” as he whips by on his way up the hill.

Some days there are more Tour de France bikers. Our hills are grueling and probably great training terrain.

There are various people with dogs. The tall, thin woman who looks like her tall, thin greyhound. The puppy trainer. The elderly couple who take turns walking their tiny frou-frou dog.

All these faces are starting to look familiar, as I’m sure my face is. There’s a guy in my neighborhood who walks everyday, and he has been doing that for years. We’ve always referred to him as the “Walking Guy”. On any given day, at any given time, he can be found somewhere in a ten mile radius, just walking along. Sun, rain, snow, it doesn’t matter. He’s out there.

Recently, our paths crossed on the road, and I finally, for the first time, said something to him besides, “Hi”.

I asked him how far he walks in a day. The answer was seven miles. Seven miles! No wonder he’s always walking.

He said he doesn’t know why he chose that particular distance, but he’s done it every day since he retired. I was so inspired by that. I was beginning to feel that I was a little bit nuts for trying to walk 10,000 steps, or roughly 4 miles a day. It was really nice to finally connect with Walking Guy, and to find out that he walks for the sheer joy of it, too.

I continued on that day with a renewed inspiration and a new sense of camaraderie. But next time I see Walking Guy out there on the road, I’m going to remember to ask him his name.

Aging backward is in the eye of the beholder

imageWell, here’s something I didn’t expect. I’ve been doing these steps for a while now. I’ve been eating healthier, losing weight, and even using some pretty expensive facial products. All positive improvements, and all designed to help me age backwards. Yes, that’s right. I just read a new buzz phrase, and it’s captured my interest. Can we really age backwards? I’ve kind of been killing myself trying lately.

I thought I was making some progress, too. Rolling back the years and slowing the inevitable progression of time.

Let me tell you a story. I went to the YMCA this morning at my usual crack of dawn, did 3 miles on the track, and swam (doggy paddled) for a little while. I was relaxing in the hot tub, when the elderly gentleman next to me struck up a conversation. We were talking about age, and he said, “So, what are you, 65?”

“Ummm. No?” I replied, a little huffily. “I’m 60.”

And suddenly, all the hard work and maintenance I’ve been doing, seemed to dribble away like so much hot air out of an old balloon.

I look 5 years older than I am? What the hell??

Needless to say, I went to work in a giant funk. What is the purpose of trying to age backward when it appears that I’m aging faster?

An existential crisis for sure. I moped all day about it. But, tonight I’m finally coming to grips with it. I’ve decided that a) the elderly gentleman probably had major cataracts and couldn’t see me properly or b) maybe I used to look 70 and this is an improvement, or c) why do I care what someone else thinks anyway? I thought he was 80. Maybe he was really 75. It’s all relative.

I’m going to continue my journey. With any luck, I’ll still look 65 ten years from now. Or, I can stop being fixated on a number. Yes, I like that approach best of all.

Photo by Andrew John Manzella

temporarily sidelined

image
Poor little sneakers worked hard.

Well, here I am with a strained knee. Of course, I haven’t been to a doctor or anything, but the fact that I can’t bend my left knee without excruciating pain and I’m walking like Festus from Gunsmoke leads me to believe that I have an “over-use” injury from my hike yesterday.

Lessons to be learned from this include: Don’t participate in a hike unless you have trained for the distance and the skill level. Don’t push your aging body to do things you’re not ready for unless you want an injury. Know when to stop.

My remedies include a knee brace and a nightly cup of warm turmeric milk. Maybe it works, maybe it’s placebo, but it makes me feel better.

I am woefully behind in steps today, but I’m willing to make the concession that I might have to sit this one out. The one thing I should not do is keep on pushing through pain. So, I am feeling sad that I don’t have 10,000 steps today, but I am also feeling like I am making good sense by resting my knee.

10,000 steps a day is something I want to do for the rest of my life, but if there are times when I can’t or shouldn’t, that is okay too. I’ll just pick it back up when I can. By taking care of myself today, I live to hike again.

Photo by DLM